"I'll get the fried fish sandwich. Does it come with anything on it?"
"No, it's just fish," the waitress replied.
"Can I add cheese to that?"
"Sure! How many slices would you like?"
"Two slices of American." A second later, another crucial element popped into my head: "Could I also get tartar sauce?"
Yup, I was recreating a McDonald's Filet-O-Fish. You're allowed to do that when you're at a diner, such as Little Poland, site of that night's group dinner. Half the table went with Eastern European fare—pierogies, stuffed cabbage, borscht—while one unhungry friend sipped on a cup of tea, another went with grilled cheese, and I writhed with indecision between grilled cheese and a fried fish sandwich. And then I realized, "Wait, I'm at a diner; I can combine the two. Hell, I can order whatever I want. Heehee. Bwahaha. BWAHAHAHA [continue with drawn out evil cackling and the like]"
As much as I appreciated that Little Poland's sandwich was made of a recognizable cut of fish unlike the molded square patty in McDonald's version, nothing really hits the spot for me quite like the latter. What's the allure of a soft, fluffy steamed bun + crispy minced fish patty + layer of congealed yellow cheese + messy dollop of tangy tartar sauce? Nostalgia, perhaps; I ate a lot of Filet-O-Fish sandwiches growing up. (My mom cooked dinner most of the time, but considering that she and my dad worked full time there were many McDonald's nights to give her a break. Or course, my brother and I loved those nights.)
But a part of me believes that I'd like the Filet-O-Fish even if it weren't attached to so many of my happy calorie-laden childhood memories. It's by far my favorite item at McDonald's (not that there's much competition there; I like the fries, because who doesn't, and I'm not going to pretend that blended chicken goo molded into nubs and deep fried aren't tasty, but the rest of the menu is mehhh), and I like the small snack-worthy size. Don't think I'm a Filet-O-Fish addict though; since 2008 I've eaten it once or twice a year. Absence makes the heart grow fonder. Or something.
Little Poland's sandwich was fine. Not something I'd order again for about $8 (it came with a pickle, if that makes things any better...not really), but it fulfilled my craving at the time.
I didn't get any dessert after dinner; I ate it before dinner. That's just how I roll. Sometimes. In this case, I was in Williamsburg that afternoon at Iona to see Winston's paintings, and afterward had some time to kill with Adelyn and Diana before I had to head to the East Village for dinner. So we popped into the overly cute (there were hearts dangling from the ceiling, man) French restaurant Pates et Traditions for a sweet snack.
When I saw a section of ice cream cups on the menu I envisioned dainty miniature sundaes. The sort that would be perfectly reasonable to eat before dinner. But, who'da thunk it, cups come in more than one size, and my caramel ice cream cup ($7) was about twice as large as what I was expecting. Perhaps the price tag should've tipped me off. The tall glass was full of vanilla ice cream scoops drizzled in thick caramel sauce, topped with a heap of whipped cream, and sprinkled with crisp slivered toasted almonds. Like any good ice cream sundae, the whole was greater than the sum of its parts. No component was particularly memorable on its own, but together in just the right proportions (I was especially fond of the large gobs of caramel sauce) it was a sundae worth remembering.
The crepes are the star of their menu though, not ice cream cups. I've never been a big fan of crepes (I'm more of a fluffy American-style pancake gal), but Adelyn and Diana liked their crepes: the ginger crepe ($6) and the Nutella crepe ($5).
I'd definitely go back to Pates et Traditions for a dessert fix in Williamsburg. There isn't much in the ways of ice cream in that area, nor crepes, I would assume, and the waitresses are super nice. They also do special entrées on Fridays and Saturdays that sound like they're worth checking out.
200 2nd Avenue, New York, NY 10003 (b/n 12th and 13th streets map)
Pates et Traditions
52 Havemeyer Street, Brooklyn, NY 11211 (at N 6th Street; map)